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Archive for December, 2009

The Approaching Storm. The 2010 Congressional Elections and the Democratic Party.

As the attention shifts to Joe Lieberman and his new found power in being able to kill any remaining meagar progressive aspects of the Senate Health Care Bill and any cost containment mechanism except in reduction of care that health care insurers and their representatives in the Republican Party and their allies in the Blue Dog coalition and the DLC Democrats seek, public anger continues to build among the Democratic voters and the Progressives who sought change. This month, actor and activist Margot Kidder had the following to say about Democratic Party politicians in an op-ed titled “Ax Max, Time To Declare War on Democratic Blackmailers” ,

The absence of democracy in a congress whose votes are bought, sold, and traded like pork bellies by big corporations in exchange for highly profitable votes and amendments on bills is a bi-partisan infection. And the pus is everywhere.

Give me a nut job for an enemy anytime. You can take aim at the obviousness of the problem and roll a strike 99 times out of a hundred. But if your enemy is disguised as a boring but harmless friend, and wears the same logo on his sweatshirt as you do, then landing a punch is like trying to slug mist. There’s no connection, no delicious smacking sound, there’s no obvious win. The fact that 20 to 25 percent of Americans support policies and politicians that are bat shit crazy is not as much a concern as the fact that 50 to 60 percent of Americans support politicians whose policies are for sale to the highest bidder, and exist independent of any underlying morality or consistent philosophy of government. Arlen Specter calls himself a Democrat for God’s sake. And so does Ben Nelson. And Blanche Lincoln. These are not Democrats; they’re Republicans in Donkey suits. And somewhat tasteful donkey suits at that. None of them would have strings of tea bags dangling from THEIR cowboy hats, you can bet the ranch on that. They are much more dangerous than Rush Limbaugh could ever hope to be.

She had this to say about her Senator Max Baucus who has led the Senate disaster on health care reform,

The hideous truth is that this empty suit-person almost single handedly took the reform out of health care reform, has introduced and somehow passed more legislation to abet the cornucopia of crime that is our banking system than anyone else in congress, and has stalled the funding of any, if not all, modern programs that would give financial lifeboats of one kind or another to families in need. He did it by pretending he was a Democrat and by hanging in there long enough to get appointed, almost by default, as chair of the banking committee. And he gets elected in a state with the fourth lowest per capita income in the country by consistently “bringing home the pork.”

She had this this to say about “centrists” and the portrayal of them,

The mainstream media calls Max Baucus and other Democratic blackmailers “centrists”. As compared to what, Chiang Kai-Shek? “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,” said Yeats, but that was in 1919 and he was referencing the Russian revolution. America’s centre has been tap dancing to the right since Ronald Reagan was loosed upon the world and it hasn’t taken a backwards step yet, so our centre is way out in right field and has no intention of coming back of its own accord. It’s up to us, unfortunately.

And it’s not just “liberals” or progressives that are realizing they are continually sold out by their party and that the Democratic Party itself has changed. In an op-ed titled “The Twin Frauds of Obama” , Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration had this to say,

There was a time when Democratic presidents represented the little man, and Republicans represented business. Today both parties represent the moneyed interests. On December 3 at the jobs summit with business leaders, Obama said, “We don’t have enough public dollars to fill the hole of private dollars that was created as a consequence of the crisis.”

In other words, all the public’s money has been spent on the banks and the wars.

Despite Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and the ease with which Obama won the presidential election over McCain/Palin, the Democratic Party has totally collapsed. The Democrats have abandoned every constituency. Democrats have discarded the American people. Democrats, in pursuit of campaign contributions, represent the moneyed interests on Wall Street, the munitions companies, the insurance companies, the agri-businesses that have destroyed independent farmers, despoilers of the environment, unaccountable police, and the builders of detention centers. The exception is Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

The Democrats have become brownshirt Republicans.

And what about the 60 vote excuse in the Senate? John Avarosis shoots that excuse down in his piece titled “The GOP had at most 55 Senators during Bush’s presidency” at AMERICAblog. He wrote

I’ve heard people say that it’s not fair to criticize the Democrats for botching health care reform because the Democrats never truly had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Sure, they have 60 votes in principle, the argument goes, but with Lieberman, Nelson, Landrieu, and Bayh counted as four of those votes, it’s not really a solid 60.

Perhaps. But then how was George Bush so effective in passing legislation during his presidency when he never had more than 55 Republicans in the Senate? In fact, during Bush’s most effective years, from 2001 to 2005, the GOP had a grand total of 50, and then 51, Senators. The slimmest margin possible.

And on the accomplishments of the Bush Administration’s actions of ramming things through that have transformed America for probably over a generation into something authoritarian and corporate in nature, he wrote

And look at what George Bush was able to accomplish in the Congress with fewer Senators than the Democrats have today:

– John Ashcroft nomination
– Iraq war resolution
– Repeated Iraq funding resolutions
– 2001 & 2003 tax cuts
– Patriot Act
– Alito
– John Roberts
– Medicare Part D

And of course there is the growing realization that the Obama administration is not a progressive administration from its DOJ defending Constitutional crimes of the Bush administration to its Wall Street economic team. This is producing a severe splintering away of the voters that have brought the Democratic Party its election victories in Congress since 2006 and the Presidency in 2008 and sets up what could be a base voter rebellion going forward. As Jane Hamsher put it concerning the Senate Health Care Bill, “I’ll add that whether they vote for it or not, it’ll be a bloodbath for anyone with a “D” next to their name in 2010 if it passes.”

Of course all this is probably confusing to many Americans, especially the Palin Teabag base and regular Fox viewers who think they are locked in a battle against either “liberalism” or the fantasy “Marxist Leninism”. Of course they will say what is needed is more tax cuts, more deregulation, less civil liberties, more war spending, and all the things that have led us to this point. It’s a pretty pitiful of a situation we find ourselves in.

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Children Of Immigrants Receive Scrooge For Christmas. The Tennessean Reports Charities Discriminate Against The Children Of Immigrants Even Though They Are Citizens.

Immigrants are usually the scapegoats of bad economic policy and have been exploited through the fear generated against others (and pushed for political reasons by those in government and certain media since 2001) but did you know programs to help needy children have a nice Christmas denies children of immigrants that chance? The Tennessean reporting on its Nashville area charities explored this practice on December 13th. The children, though citizens with their own social security numbers, are denied because of their parents’ status of not having one. The policy, however, goes back dozens of years, not due to recent hatred. It is a process where Toys For Tots, Angel Tree, and others, for example, track the gifts to make sure they go to local children. However, wouldn’t it be nicer to revisit the rules since these children are local and are US citizens? The child’s number should be enough, shouldn’t it?

“It saddens me because I was hopeful for my little girl,” Lara said. “Initially, I was told because she was born here that she qualified. Then they called me telling me she won’t get the toy.”

Angel Tree and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots, two of the nation’s largest holiday gift programs, require parents to produce Social Security numbers for themselves and their children, along with proof of income and personal identification. The local leader of one group said such policies protect the programs from fraud and satisfy donors who want to be sure only local families are being helped.

But the result is that children, some of them U.S. citizens, are excluded because of immigration decisions beyond their control.

“It makes you wonder how many thousands of children here in Nashville, who were born here and live here, don’t have Christmas because this is the way these programs work,” said Melissa Garcia, a Nashville mother who discovered the program rules this year when she applied.

If you can find it in your heart, give such a child a gift in these hard times so they can have a Merry Christmas too.

After Karzai’s Speech Where He States U.S. Troops Are Needed For Another 15 To 20 Years, Dennis Kucinich Announces His Intentions To Reinstate Congressional Constitutional Authority Concerning War In 2010. He Plans To Invoke The War Powers Resolution In The Next Session Of Congress Along With Article 1, Section 8 Of The U.S. Constitution.

After the press conference with Secretary of Defense Gates and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in which Karzai says US troops and money will be needed an additional 15 to 20 years, Kucinich (D) Ohio took to the floor of the House to announce his intentions to invoke the powers given Congress concerning war. Citing Article 1, Section 8 which gives Congress the Constitutional power to determine matters of committing this nation to war and troops and material to war zones and also the War Powers Resolution of 1973, he cited the erosion of this authority over the years as the US has moved towards an imperial Presidency, and his plans to reassert these powers in 2010 in the next session of Congress. Doing this would require the executive branch to report to Congress pursuant to 4 a.1 of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. He then circulated a letter to members of the House.

More On The Obama Afghanistan Decision And The Escalation/Withdrawal Double Speak.

In continuing the points made in my previous post titled,”Where The US Military Meets Frankenstein’s Monster At The Grave Yard Of Conquerors” , I decided to pull three videos together to give the reader a broader look along with background. That way, a person can sift through what is political talk, propaganda to further a geopolitical and economic hegemony game for trans-national oil interests, and how it relates to growing debt and economic conditions in the United States (sorry but it doesn’t have anything to do with liberals, or spending too much of the public’s money on the public’s welfare).

Does anyone get the symbolism of the targets now of the acts of the terrorists that flew the planes on 9/11/01 of the World Trade Center , the Pentagon , and Capitol Hill ?. And if you want a wider look at the grand chess board of American geopolitical hegemony policy, read or reread “Moon Water And Sibel Edmonds” . It is also important to keep in mind that since the formalization of OPEC, the U.S. dollar has been has been tied to oil instead of gold (countries have to pay for oil in US currency) and in recent years, Iraq and Iran were attempting to trade oil in Euros. If you contemplate that in recent years, more countries have been contemplating this move and have been changing their reserve currencies to a mixed bag of currencies and subsequently dumping or buying less US bonds, it should make you a little nervous. Should we continue this game or adjust policy to avoid any potential of it being a house of cards? Shouldn’t we have a national conversation on the issues at hand especially given our trade deficits and increasing lack of a manufacturing base not to mention the moral issues?

The Obama Bait And Switch. When The Country Needed Another FDR, It Got Another Clinton. Understanding Why Wall Street Got Its Fix Before Mainstreet.

To understand the logic behind how the bailout was handled, one needs to understand the players involved. In this video, Matt Taibbi explains why Wall Street got its fix before any other moves and how the changes benefitted the monied elite before turning to any fixes towards the average citizen. The current ideology of the two parties (except progressives such as the members of the Progressive Caucus) such as deregulation and privatization will not solve the long term structural problems of the American economy that started with Reagan without a change in focus back towards regulated captitalism, fair trade instead of “free trade” and progressive taxation that will cover expenditures. The economy is in dire need of works programs directed towards infrastructure which could return $1.87 on the dollar instead of tax cuts which only return $1.01 on the dollar. A little bit of Keynesian principles added to the economy right now would help. However, given the current political climate in America (a hard right party and a weak party), it seems doubtful.

Where The U.S. Military Meets Frankensten’s Monster At The Grave Yard Of Conquerors. Obama’s Afghan Decision.

December 3, 2009 1 comment

Obama’s decision on escalating the conflict in Afghanistan should not come as a surprise. Afterall, candidate Obama said he was going to shift forces to Afghanistan (which he said was the “good war” as opposed to Iraq which was the “bad war”). That however, doesn’t mean that description is complete nor the decision necessarily wise at this point. As I wrote in 2008 at the DailyKos and the Democratic Underground in a piece titled, “Colonial Wars In A Postcolonial Era (Benazir Bhutto on Iraq)” the Taliban and the groups that ultimately formed al Queda are our “Frankenstein’s monster” by borrowing Benazir Bhutto’s quote

Post cold war imperial ambitions of the U.S. have pushed the Middle East and Central Asia into intolerable peril for these regions the U.S. desires to control for unmatched hegemony. Benazir Bhutto knowing the true nature of the mujahideen coalition even down to each leader of each group and what they were capable of, warned George H.W. Bush in June of 1989, “Mr. President, I fear we have created a Frankenstein that will come back to haunt us” according to her book. The United States, blinded by the Wolfowitz doctrine, has not seen the warning signs until too late. It did not see bin Laden’s rebellion among its jihad network.

and that we should understand the historical background of where we currently find ourselves

The road to 9/11 and its continued bloody aftermath began in earnest at the tail end of the Carter administration when the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI decided it would be a good idea to train and fund a coalition of groups of mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan to give the Soviet backed government of President Mohammed Najibullah more problems than it could handle. For the Pakistani military, the strategy was to provide itself with more reach and influence. For the United States, it was to create a Vietnam type of quagmire for the Soviet Union and its success began when the USSR invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Day, 1979. Ironically, this Soviet quagmire that ultimately led to the implosion of the USSR now threatens us with the same fate.

Of equally important background information is this from The Nation and it’s online blog from 2008 titled, “The Afghan Pipeline You Don’t Know About”

…and speaking of oil, just when we were barely getting used to Big Oil and Iraq hitting the front pages of American newspapers in tandem, here comes Afghanistan! Who now remembers that delegation of Taliban officials, shepherded by Unocal (“We’re an oil and gas company. We go where the oil and gas is…”), back in 1999, that made an all-expenses paid visit to the U.S. There was even that side trip to Mt. Rushmore, while the company (with U.S. encouragement) was negotiating a $1.9 billion pipeline that would bring Central Asian oil and natural gas through Afghanistan to Pakistan? Oh, and who was a special consultant to Unocal on the prospective deal? Zalmay Khalilzad, our present neocon ambassador to the U.N., George W. Bush’s former viceroy of Kabul and then Baghdad, and a rumored future “Afghan” presidential candidate.

Those pipeline negotiations only broke down definitively in August 2001, one month before, well, you know… and, as Toronto’s Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin put it, “Washington was furious, leading to speculation it might take out the Taliban. After 9/11, the Taliban, with good reason, were removed — and pipeline planning continued with the Karzai government. U.S. forces installed bases near Kandahar, where the pipeline was to run. A key motivation for the pipeline was to block a competing bid involving Iran, a charter member of the ‘axis of evil.'”

Well, speak of the dead and not-quite-buried. It turns out that, in April, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (acronymically TAPI) signed a Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement to build a U.S.-backed $7.6 billion pipeline. It would, of course, bypass Iran and new energy giant Russia, carrying Turkmeni natural gas and oil to Pakistan and India. Construction would, theoretically, begin in 2010. Put the emphasis on “theoretically,” because the pipeline is, once again, to run straight through Kandahar and so directly into the heartland of the Taliban insurgency.

and this news item from the BBC in 2002 titled, “Afghan pipeline given go-ahead” . Also, the blog at The Nation online magazine went on to state Americans would not know these things unless they regularly scan news items from foreign press sources. The question is, is this still about al Queda and the right war (since the US’s own assessments are that there are maybe only about 100 persons connected to the al Queda groups left in Afghanistan) or is this just a continuation of the strategic game of the empire project concerning Central Asian oil?

Well let’s look at Obama’s announcement and see how convincing it is and what information is given in it. Author Will Pitt in a post at Democratic Underground said that “President Barack Obama delivered the best speech George W. Bush ever gave in his life.” and went on to say,

It took exactly 130 words for Mr. Obama to invoke the attacks of September 11, which is just about how long it usually took Mr. Bush whenever he unleashed one of his linguistic muggings upon the populace.

Mr. Obama blessed the calamity of Iraq as a success – “We have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people,” said the president – which was a favorite habit of Mr. Bush, no matter how brazen facts to the contrary happened to be.

Mr. Obama likewise blessed the recent fraud-riddled election in Afghanistan as a positive thing, despite the cancerous effect that farce of a vote has had on the confidence of the Afghan people. In this, the president echoed Mr. Bush once again, as it was often Mr. Bush’s practice to fete Iraqi elections that were controlled by Iran and riven with violence as successful steps towards democracy.

Mr. Obama re-introduced the American people to the menace of weapons of mass destruction, a favorite note of Mr. Bush. Obama did not go so far as to say that Afghanistan is in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent, 30,000 missiles to deliver the stuff, mobile biological weapons labs, and uranium from Niger for use in a robust nuclear weapons program, as Mr. Bush did during another memorable prime-time speech, but the call to dread was there all the same. The threat of “loose nukes” is indeed real enough, but it was a kick in the stomach to see the Bush Handbook on Fear put into play once again.

Will Pitt seems unconvinced. On the Ed Schultz show, Rep. Eric Massa (D)NY and a member of the Armed Services Committee had this to say when asked if Obama’s speech convinced him,

“NO. And I would have to ask a question: Why 30,000 troops and not 40? Why 30,000 troops and not 20? Why 18 months and not 16 or 24? These are artificial time lines and numbers that have no true military significance as planners sit down and develop what’s called “troop to task” requirements. There is nothing that I heard tonite that would convince me that we are embarking on a strategic mission that is both vital and necessary. We invaded Afghanistan with less than 1,000 special forces personnel and killed or captured over 98% of all the terrorists that we could identify. And now with the remaining few, less than 100 according to the national security adviser, we are going to deploy an army of 100,000 to rebuild a nation?

“The President says, as one of his major points, we are going to act as a partnership with the Afghan government and yet we all know, anyone who has studied it, anyone who has his eyes and ears open, that that government is corrupt beyond malice. I think and I hold strong objection to sending American soldiers into harms’ way and combat to prop up a government that is more corrupt than Tony Soprano and his lieutenants. And so, no, I heard nothing tonight that would sway me against my absolute objection to
what I consider to be a fool’s errand.

Another no from Rep. Massa. And then there is this quote from Rep. Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont,

“Why, in the midst of a severe recession with 17% of our people unemployed
or under-employed and one out of four kids on food stamps — are we going to
be spending $100 Billion a year on Afghanistan when have so many pressing needs
at home?”

Cenk of The Young Turks appeared unconvinced while appearing on Countdown and listening to political double speak of both escalation and withdrawal from Karen Finney

And finally, an ominous undertone from someone who was a part of Afghanistan’s history of being a grave yard for would be conquerors in a Financial Times article

The Soviet 40th Army comprised 120,000 troops at the height of the war, and operations focused on manoeuvring helicopter-borne paratroopers on to mountains, to control high ground, and then moving tanks through the valleys.

In a decade nearly 15,000 Soviet troops lost their lives – and hundreds of thousands of Afghans – in many of the same places that US forces and their allies are struggling to control today: the border regions in the south-east of the country near Pakistan, and the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand.

“The war, all 10 years of it, went in circles. We would come and they [the insurgents] would leave. Then we leave, and they would return,” Gen Rodionov said.

General Rodionov went on to say everything that could be tried in Afghanistan has been tried. If there ever was a time to heed lessons from another country’s historic walk into oblivion, this is it.